At the Mexican Grand Prix’s qualifier, Team Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo squeaked past the other drivers to win the vaunted pole position. His teammate, Max Verstappen, came in close second. If he would have managed to stay ahead of Ricciardo and the rest of the drivers, Verstappen could have been the youngest pole winner in Formula 1 history.
This is the first time that Ricciardo, from Australia, out-qualified Verstappen since the Monaco Grand Prix last May. Verstappen was dominating all weekend until Ricciardo managed to pull ahead by a mere 0.026 seconds. When he discovered he had made it to pole position, he shouted with glee.
“I knew it was there somewhere,” he said. “We hadn’t had the cleanest run through practice but I knew the pace was in the car; Max showed that through the weekend. So it was just a matter of putting together a clean lap.”
The victory of the Red Bull vehicles has been credited to the high altitude in the race, which takes place in Mexico City. Altitude reduces the power deficit in Team Red Bull’s Renault engines. In addition, all teams are forced to run their race cars with maximum downforce set-ups. Red Bull is acknowledged to have the best.
Lewis Hamilton came third and is favored to win a fifth world title if he finished the race in at least seventh place. In addition, the Team Mercedes driver will also win the title if Sebastian Vettel doesn’t win the race, which looks increasingly likely considering the dominance Team Red Bull displayed in the qualifying race.
During Friday’s practice, Hamilton lagged at seventh place, so his performance pleased him greatly. “Really, really happy with it,” he said. “We had a difficult day yesterday and it was a big improvement today. It was a real struggle but the team did a great job analyzing and moving forward, that was as good as I could get.”